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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
February 4, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Army Chaplains.
With the tremendous influx of young men into the military forces, to pass the million mark in March, the pressure on the War Department regarding the welfare of these men is steadily growing in intensity. Religious organizations, the W.C.T.U. [Woman’s Christian Temperance Union] and kindred interests are increasingly urgent in their requests for reassurance and in their proposals for War Department action.
Under these conditions it is not believed that the present situation in the Corps of Chaplains is in the best interests of the service, particularly from the viewpoint of the public reaction. Under existing law, the Army is required to have one dentist in the grade of general officer. The law permits the appointment of a veterinarian in the grade of general officer. At the same time the Chief of Chaplains is a colonel. Whether or not chaplains should have military rank seems rather beside the point in the present situation. The law gives such rank, and it does not appear to be the proper moment to attempt a change in the law.
In my opinion, the Chief of Chaplains should be given rank on a parity with the chiefs of other branches and services of the Army. While the Chief of Chaplains does not head a fighting service, neither does the Judge Advocate General. Furthermore, chaplains are required, in the British Army for example, to go forward with their men in the attack formations.1
Under these circumstances, it is recommended that the present Chief of Chaplains, Colonel William R. Arnold, be nominated for promotion to the grade of major general.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 16379-54, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. The issue of promoting the chief of Chaplains to brigadier general had been raised in late September 1940 when the first large group of general-officer promotions had been proposed. (See Marshall to De Witt, September 25, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-269 [2: 316-17].) At that time, Secretary of War Stimson had “reluctantly yielded” to Marshall’s including Colonel Arnold on the list to be sent to the president for approval. Roosevelt, however, instructed Stimson to delete Arnold’s name. (September 25 and 26, 1940, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 30: 192, 197].)
2. The following is written on the bottom of the file copy of this document: “Pencil note on original: `Sec. of War would not approve. GCM.’”
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 406-407,